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The Grammar of Science

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The Grammar of Science, originally published in 1892, was considered an essential read by budding young scientists like Albert Einstein. Pearson's work contributed to Einstein's greatest discoveries by introducing him to the ideas of relativity of motion, equivalence between matter and energy, and the concept of antimatter. Pearson opens his book with a definition and discussion of science itself, detailing what is required for inquiries to be scientific in nature. He then moves on to discuss space and time, motion, matter, and the future of scientific progress. Professionals and students alike will be fascinated by Pearson's insight into the nature of reality. British professor KARL PEARSON (1857-1936) worked at University College in London. He invented mathematical statistics and formed the Department of Applied Statistics at the University of London. He wrote many books and papers, including a biography of Francis Galton, a proponent of eugenics, and studies on evolution.

416 pages, Hardcover

Published November 1, 2007

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About the author

Karl Pearson

180 books22 followers
Karl Pearson FRS (/ˈpɪərsɨn/) (27 March 1857 – 27 April 1936) (originally named Carl) was an influential English mathematician who has been credited with establishing the discipline of mathematical statistics.

In 1911 he founded the world's first university statistics department at University College London. He was a proponent of eugenics, and a protégé and biographer of Sir Francis Galton.

A sesquicentenary conference was held in London on 23 March 2007, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.

When the 23 year-old Albert Einstein started a study group, the Olympia Academy, with his two younger friends, Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht, he suggested that the first book to be read was Pearson's The Grammar of Science. This book covered several themes that were later to become part of the theories of Einstein and other scientists. Pearson asserted that the laws of nature are relative to the perceptive ability of the observer. Irreversibility of natural processes, he claimed, is a purely relative conception. An observer who travels at the exact velocity of light would see an eternal now, or an absence of motion. He speculated that an observer who traveled faster than light would see time reversal, similar to a cinema film being run backwards. Pearson also discussed antimatter, the fourth dimension, and wrinkles in time.

Pearson's relativity was based on idealism, in the sense of ideas or pictures in a mind. He stated, "...science is in reality a classification and analysis of the contents of the mind..." "In truth, the field of science is much more consciousness than an external world." (Ibid., Ch. II, § 6) "Law in the scientific sense is thus essentially a product of the human mind and has no meaning apart from man." (Ibid., Ch. III, § 4)

Pearson achieved widespread recognition across a range of disciplines and his membership of, and awards from, various professional bodies reflects this:

1896: elected FRS: Fellow of the Royal Society
1898: awarded the Darwin Medal
1911: awarded the honorary degree of LLD from the University of St Andrews
1911: awarded a DSc from University of London
1920: offered (and refused) the OBE
1932: awarded the Rudolf Virchow medal by the Berliner Anthropologische Gesellschaft
1935: offered (and refused) a knighthood

He was also elected an Honorary Fellow of King's College Cambridge, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, University College London and the Royal Society of Medicine, and a Member of the Actuaries' Club.

Pearson's work was all-embracing in the wide application and development of mathematical statistics, and encompassed the fields of biology, epidemiology, anthropometry, medicine, psychology and social history. In 1901, with Walter Frank Raphael Weldon and Francis Galton, he founded the journal Biometrika whose object was the development of statistical theory. He edited this journal until his death. Among those who assisted Pearson in his research were a number of female mathematicians who included Beatrice Mabel Cave-Browne-Cave and Frances Cave-Browne-Cave. He also founded the journal Annals of Eugenics (now Annals of Human Genetics) in 1925. He published the Drapers' Company Research Memoirs largely to provide a record of the output of the Department of Applied Statistics not published elsewhere.

Pearson's thinking underpins many of the 'classical' statistical methods which are in common use today.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Isaac Galatzer-levy.
4 reviews1 follower
May 10, 2014
This book is amazing! I really like the geometric way of thinking which is very absent in modern statistics
Profile Image for Jim.
491 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2017
A lot of stuff is examined and discussed, much of it regarding the taxonomy of science. I wish the author had given a little more time and effort regarding epistemological approaches to science. Somewhat memorable was a comparison of ideas about the priority, ranking, and relationships of the Sciences, according to Bacon, Comte, and Spencer. It was on Einstein's "to read" list, so I thought I'd give it a try. I bet he found it more interesting!
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